Artificial intelligence is starting to creep into the photography industry with new software emerging that is capable of producing very similar photos to the ones taken by people with a camera, according to a local Estevan photographer.
Byron Fichter owns and operates Byron Fichter Fotography. The professional picture taker recently starting dabbling with the new technology himself.
"It's really simple actually. You just type in exactly what you want for an image," said Fichter. "And it's as easy as saying 'orange kitties,' black puppies' or whatever, and with that kind of vaguery it'll shoot out an image and it does a lot of interpretation."
"But then you can really refine that a long way to saying, 'I want a headshot of a kitten and I want it shot with this lens at this aperture with this shutter speed and all these things, and it generates a fairly decent likeness according to your commands."
Fichter explained how he's compared photos he's taken to ones that he's altered with AI.
"I just ask it without a reference of any kind, 'hey, take a perfect picture of this location.' And it's actually pretty interesting to see how they look very similar," he said. "The AI came up with something very similar to what I had shot myself."
Fichter also does some graphic design for a few clients and says he's learned to use the software in other ways as well.
"You can use it sort of as a replacement for a stock imaging website, and then you can also use it probably as like a replacement for a stock vector graphic website. It does a pretty good job," he said.
"The hardest part is probably leaning how the AI thinks. When you ask for a specific thing, it takes a while to understand the detail you need to use with your description before it gives you exactly what you want, if that makes sense."
Fichter said it's possible he'll use it for his business going forward.
"It doesn't look like it's going to generate an image that I would sell as a photo. However, I've been doing a lot of like artistic creation stuff with it, and I wouldn't rule out selling art based on it, because some of the stuff that comes off of it, it's worth hanging in your house...it's beautiful stuff," he said.
And at least for now, Fichter doesn't think artificial intelligence will completely replace the skill of human photography anytime soon.
"It's yet to be determined. At this point it's good, it's very good. Right now I'm not too worried about it replacing photography. But I think there is a future where that could become an issue, right?"
"Whether it's good or bad, it will provide opportunity for those that understand it."